Airline asks bosses to work as baggage handlers amid staff shortages

Airline employees are short of Qantas luggage rack pandemic travel chaos - Jamie Lorriman

Airline employees are short of Qantas luggage compartment pandemic travel chaos – Jamie Lorriman

Senior executives at Qantas have been asked to step down from their top positions for three months and carry luggage as the airline faces a shortage of staff.

Colin Hughes, Qantas COO, wrote to managers asking for 100 volunteers to work shifts at Sydney and Melbourne airports.

Tasks include loading and unloading luggage, as well as driving the vehicles that take luggage to and from planes.

The move highlights the difficulty Qantas faces in hiring enough staff to handle a rebound in travel after laying off more than 1,600 baggage handlers during the pandemic.

Australia’s national airline canceled more than 8% of its services in June, making it the country’s least reliable carrier.

That came when the head of US airline JetBlue said he was having to over-hire due to the pace at which people were leaving the industry.

8:30 am

PwC fined £2.5m for botched BT audit

PwC was fined £2.5m for its botched audit of BT in 2017.

The Financial Reporting Council handed down the penalty and a stern rebuke for PwC’s failure to meet the requirements in its audit report following a fraud scandal at BT’s Italian division.

The telecoms giant admitted accounting irregularities in its Italian arm in 2016/17, which led to a £530m write-down after concerns were raised by a whistleblower.

The FRC also fined partner Richard Hughes £60,000 for his role in the audit.

08:18

SoftBank drops to record loss as technology defeat hits Vision Fund

SoftBank fell to a record loss of 3.16 trillion yen (£19 billion) as the sell-off of global tech stocks continued to hurt its Vision Fund.

The Vision Fund recorded a loss of 2.33 trillion yen in the three months to the end of June – surpassing the record loss recorded in the previous quarter. It’s a sharp reversal of the 235.6 billion yen profit recorded in the same quarter last year.

SoftBank has been hit by the slump in global markets, which has affected its investments in companies like Uber. The high-tech Nasdaq is down 22% in the quarter, capping its worst performance since the 2008 financial crisis.

08:09

Jaguar Land Rover owner buys Ford factory in India

Jaguar Land Rover Tata - REUTERS/Babu

Jaguar Land Rover Tata – REUTERS/Babu

The Indian carmaker behind Jaguar Land Rover has struck a deal to buy a Ford plant in Gujarat for 7.26 billion rupees (£75 million).

The agreement between Tata’s electric vehicle division and the US company’s Indian division covers land, machinery and all “qualified employees”.

Ford halted production in India last year after struggling for more than two decades to generate profits there.

The move comes as Tata tries to increase car production to meet growing demand. He said annual production at the Sanand plant will initially give a new capacity of 300,000 vehicles a year, which can be increased to 420,000.

08:02

FTSE 100 opens higher

The FTSE 100 started the week ahead even as investors weighed the latest prospects of monetary tightening and an impending economic slowdown.

The blue-chip index gained 0.6pc to 7,484 points.

7:57 am

UK Covid Venture Capital Fund ‘Mainly Supported Zombie Businesses’

UK venture capital fund Covid has invested heavily in so-called zombie businesses, leaving it with a “significant tail of dormant companies”.

The Future Fund, a £1.1bn portfolio established by then-Chancellor Rishi Sunak and managed by the British Business Bank, invested in nearly 1,200 companies, mostly early-stage, at the height of the pandemic.

But the minutes of a BBB audit committee meeting last summer, seen by the Financial Times, reveal comments by non-executive director Dharmash Mistry that “most of the portfolio companies had . . . limited chance of growth on a scale sufficient for success” and therefore would become “zombie businesses”.

Minutes from another meeting this year included a warning from Mistry that the portfolio would “likely” have “a significant tail of dormant companies and it would be helpful if this could be flagged in advance to manage expectations.”

7:50 am

Joules in negotiations on the sale of Next

Joules Next share sale - Joules

Joules Next share sale – Joules

Street retailer Joules has confirmed it is in talks to sell a stake to Next in a move that could raise around £15m.

Joules said he is also in discussions about joining Next’s online platform to support his “long-term growth plans.”

Reports follow that the luxury brand was in talks to sell a 25% stake to its larger rival. Joules did not confirm the size of the potential stake, but said Next would become a “strategic minority shareholder”.

Joules has had a miserable year so far as a series of profit warnings has sent its share price down 80%.

The company said last month that it had called in advisers from KPMG to look into strengthening its finances as rising costs and waning consumer confidence hit the group’s bottom line.

7:40 am

Qantas bosses asked to carry luggage

Good Morning.

The scale of staff shortages in the aviation industry was revealed after an airline asked its executives to carry luggage.

Qantas has written to headquarter heads looking for 100 volunteers to leave their office jobs for three months and handle suitcases.

They are being asked to load and unload luggage, as well as drive vehicles that transport suitcases between planes and terminals. Candidates must be able to carry bags weighing up to 32 kg.

Meanwhile, the head of JetBlue said the US low-cost airline is having to over-hire due to the pace at which people are leaving the industry.

This comes as the industry grapples with widespread staff shortages as companies struggle to cope with a strong demand recovery in the wake of the pandemic.

5 things to start the day

1) Britain really isn’t working – and the NHS collapse is to blame – Economic inactivity has increased in the UK, despite falling in most of the developed world

two) Generation income ‘failed by the government in housing’ Redrow boss issues warning after Truss and Sunak vow to abandon housing targets

3) Vegetable shortages increase as Europe faces heat wave Water shortages and transportation chaos mean shoppers will have fewer options

4) Why Europe is suffering a worse inflation crisis than Britain – The UK is experiencing less inflation than the average EU nation

5) Amazon workers plan strike wave as wage dispute escalates Company hit by spontaneous stoppages last week

what happened during the night

Stocks were lower in Hong Kong this morning, with the Hang Seng index down 0.7pc.

The Shanghai Composite Index was down 0.4pc and the Shenzhen Composite Index on China’s second stock exchange also dropped 0.4pc.

Tokyo stocks traded within a narrow range. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index opened lower, but later edged up 0.2pc. The broader Topix index pared losses and fell 0.06pc.

arriving today

Corporate: Clarkson, PageGroup (interim results)

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